Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 29th 2015 Contents A16
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 29, 2015
RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
Freezing salaries is a sensitive issue and will pro-
voke emotional reactions from all segments of soci-
ety, in particular unionised groups. This is according
to senior economist Dr Roger Hosein. He said it was
his "personal view" that, if it became necessary, the
Government should choose a wage freeze option
rather than cutting jobs.
He said, "If a wage freeze does become relevant to
the public sector, as it may if the external and internal
economic environment do not change in the future,
then we may have to do it above a threshold level of
income, in this way allowing those at lower levels of
income to still benefit, where possible, from appropriate
In the simplest term, he said a wage freeze refers
to a zero per cent increase in salary with the same
level of pay. Last week, Hosein said wage freezes
should be implemented across the board in the public
and private sectors. This was received with some dis-
content among trade union bodies.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and
Non-Governmental Organisations called on Hosein
to apologise for his comments saying it was an attack
on the working class.
In an interview yesterday, Hosein sought to further
explain his recommendations. "It is really unfortunate
that after stimulating over US$100 billion in economic
rents since 2000, that we have to find ourselves in
this position. "Since the budget was read, the market
was not kind in terms of the price of oil and gas. Both
have recorded prices below the budgeted numbers."
He said while it was a trying time for T&T, the economy
could emerge vibrant as it did in the 1980 s but it
required all hands on deck and "pulling in the same
Oil prices began descending to under US$50 a barrel
from over US$100. This has had a negative impact
on T&T s economy.
He offered another suggestion to the Government,
saying it should perhaps review areas of its $63 billion
budget where there was "slack" and make changes
there. Hosein added, "Whilst we press the State for
immediate action, let s also be fair and give them time
to settle in and come to terms with the current eco-
He anticipated that the mid-year review would be
the "key turning point."
Mayers: Economy not bright
Another economist, Robert Mayers, said while he
was not against a wage freeze, he was against a wage
freeze where people had collective agreements. How-
ever, he said, he strongly advocated efficient revenue
Hosein: 'Wage freeze' better than job cuts...
...Mayers: Economic climate not very bright
collection. He said, "A wage freeze has to be
specific to the industry, in other words, if I am
in a business that is making money, why must
I have a wage freeze?"
On Hosein s suggestion that it be across the
board, he questioned, "How can Dr Hosein say
that? People have collective agreements and they
are supposed to be made in good faith. When
they were being made, I am sure they were aware
of all the economic circumstances."
Asked about the current economic climate,
he said it was not very bright. Mayers said, "Your
main sources of revenue are declining and declin-
ing precipitously, so at some point you will have
to do some cutting back. "When they choose
to do that will rest with the powers that be.
"I would strongly advocate that they look at
revenue collection before they look at cutting
people s salaries." He said all governments in
this country had never been serious about col-
lecting money but it was time this administration
got serious. "They need to get serious and when
that is being done efficiently, then you can really
look at your situation and decide where you
need to cut your spending," he said.
See Editorial on Page A20
Investopedia defines a salary freeze
as, "The action of a company
suspending salary increases for a
period of time. By freezing salary
increases for a given period,
management is hoping that the
company will be able to produce
better bottom line results by keeping
fixed costs controlled. The downside
of a salary freeze for a company is
that employee morale will typically
take a hit and the firm may end up
losing valuable employees due to
Ban on street selling
Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan has
banned all street vending in the Central bor-
ough. In a telephone interview, yesterday,
Boodhan said all street vendors must operate
from the vendors mall located on the site of
the old Chaguanas Health Centre.
Boodhan said he has the full cooperation of
the police in this exercise since "the lawlessness
must stop." Boodhan said he hoped to see joint
police/army patrols in the borough for the
Christmas shopping season.
He said despite the slowdown in the economy,
retailers were expecting the usual amount of
business for the holiday period.
Boodhan said a traffic plan was being worked
out that would see some streets being turned
into one-way routes, while traffic wardens
would be asked to work overtime to keep the
flow of vehicles steady.
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